Residents Worried Of Losing Compensation As A ‘Ghost’ Contractor Brands Them Opportunist Parasites.

Kamenu MCA Elizabeth Muthoni Hussein addressing Kiganjo Valley Farmers Group when they had gathered at the Thika South Sewerage System construction site on Wednesday.
Kiganjo peasant farmers are now a very worried lot after Athi Water Board (AWB), the body that has been engaging them in the requital, denounced them and referred them to an unknown contractor assigned to construct the Thika South Sewerage Plant in the area.

For over two years now, about 200 farmers have been in negotiations with the board management who had promised to pay for the damage of crops that were destroyed in preparation for the commencement of the World Bank funded project. They are expressing concerns on the delay and in the manner in which the board has kept shifting goal posts. They are now being asked to demand payment from the Chinese construction company that is working on the programme.

“Last year, Athi Water Board did some evaluation on the extent of the damage that each one of these members incurred and they signed an agreement with us for compensation. After collecting all data, which included our bank accounts, they told us that we would receive our cheques by 15th January 2017. This was never to be as payment was later pushed to the end of February, and this time, to be effected by The Ministry of Transport, Housing & Infrastructure,” said John Mwangi, the chairperson Kiganjo Valley Farmers Group whose members had been farming on the affected land.

“Now they have pushed the payment to 30th March 2017, but again this time, we are supposed to get our payment from the contractor on site,” he added.

Their worry is that they have never met the said contractor and has never been seen in the site. Furthermore, there has never been any form of agreement between them and the Chinese firm to warrant them to demand any money from this company.

“Last week when we went to the foreman manning this site, he sent us away and called us parasites who were just interested in getting free money. The big question is, have they just realised that we were scroungers two years down the line?” asked Ann Wanjiru.

Peter Njenga is now appealing to Kiambu Governor William Kabogo to intervene on their behalf as they have now lost hope in the payments. However, he warned that come 30th (March), if they will have not been compensated, they will stall all operations of the project until all their demands were met.

“The governor now needs to intervene because as things stand now, these people are hell bent to deny us our dues. These are the characters who are giving President Uhuru (Kenyatta) a bad name. How do we even trust them if the same documents they signed are now being branded as fake?” asked Njenga.

Kamenu MCA Elizabeth Muthoni Hussein confirmed that there existed an MOU between Athi Water Board and these farmers that detailed how they were supposed to be compensated. She reckons that the board’s behaviour has been suspicious as they kept breaking their part of the bargain.

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“Recently I asked them (AWB) why they have shifted the payment to the contractor who we even have never met. Their reply was that there had been an agreement with the construction firm to cater for the reimbursements,” said the area representative.

She made it clear that Kiambu County Government had no role whatsoever in the construction of the facility nor in the compensation programme as they would only get involved once the project was complete.

“We have not been allocated any money to oversee this construction. The county government will only come in once project is complete, and that is to run the system. Ours is therefore to inherit the loan incurred in the whole project but not its liabilities,” said Muthoni.

She said that even though she fully supported the project, she would stand by the affected families in their quest for justice and will never stand in their way in case they will not have been indemnified by the end of this month (30th March).

“We will not negotiate (on non-payment of these dues). They will have to pay and there are no two ways about this,” she warned.
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